Ceiling Fan Capacitor Woes

When we moved, the house we moved into did not have forced air circulation or heating, so in order to circulate the warm air from the single wall heater into the various rooms, we installed 4 ceiling fans about 8 years ago, one in each room, and one in the central hallway, which is closest to the wall heater. One of the issues we’ve encountered over the years with these 3-speed reversible ceiling fans is the fact they have speed-control capacitors that occasionally burn out. So far, it has always been one of the two in control of the lowest speed circuit, which uses the least power when it’s working properly, and it’s also the speed that the fan is operating on most of the time it’s on. The factory module is an integrated three-in-one unit, molded into a single, insulated plastic housing, with five wires. These fans are now about 7- or 8-years old.

While on our monthly grocery shopping trip, we stopped by the store where we purchased the fans. They either no longer carried these replacement capacitors, or never carried them in the first place.

The home center, sometimes referred to as a mega-store, did have wall-mount speed controls, and had I desired to cut a hole in the wall, install an electrical box, the necessary wiring to the fan, patch the drywall and paint, as well as spend the additional time to accomplish all of that, then perhaps those types of speed controls could be retrofitted into the existing system, but I just wanted a replacement module for the burned out capacitor so the repair was quick and simple, nor involved replacing the rest of the perfectly fine ceiling fan.

At the mega-store, after looking for replacements on the shelf and not being able to locate them, I then spoke to the employee in the fan department, who said, “No, we don’t carry them,” but added that he’d been trying to get management to stock them and hadn’t had any luck.

I went to the customer service desk, and looked through their supply book for some period of time, checking multiple cross-references in its index. Nope, there were no in-the-fan-housing capacitor modules to be found.

Later that evening after we got back home and unpacked the groceries, I searched the Internet, and found several online suppliers.

  1. Replacement ceiling fan capacitors supplier site 1.

  2. Replacement ceiling fan capacitors supplier site 2.

In studying those two sites above, it is apparent from the latter one that even though the modules are rated by the two, three, or four capacitors they contain, the schematics and internal wiring also have several variations. This would affect installation of a replacement. Since the type we need has two wires internally connected to one side of all three capacitors according to the on-the-module schematic, some of the four-wire type that don’t appear to match should work provided I wire them into the rest of the fan’s wiring in such a way to simulate that internal connection.

It appears that a number of differently rated modules could be installed. The exact same values as the failed unit are probably best provided those values are printed on the outside of the bad module. In our case they were: 5-wire, 4uf + 4uf + 5uf; the second fan is 4uf + 5uf + 5uf; “uf” means micro farad, a value of capacitance. No module replacements seem to match those values exactly in 5-wire, and it’s cautioned that the capacitance value can only vary by +/- 1uf. The repair question morphs again, complicating matters: do we want a slightly slower fan speed, or slightly faster, and which farad value, either an increase or a decrease, achieves each?

For a slightly slower speed it appears we’ll need a lower capacitance value: for a higher speed, a higher capacitance value. Apparently, a shorted or solid wire approaches infinite capacitance (MS word doc).

This is confirmed by the schematic logic in the links below. Perhaps it would be better to just replace the single one that has blown:

  1. Single ceiling fan capacitors supplier site 3.

This is an interesting repair option, and in our fan’s case of a factory three-in-one module, it would likely and initially require installation of three single capacitors due to the fan-case space limitation of keeping the old module in addition to the replacement: the bad one can’t singly be removed. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, these “single capacitors” may not have the correct rating, their catalog is using an “m” (milli) instead of a “u” (micro). This is possibly a typo related to the computer age’s typical use of ASCII, the actual, old-fashioned character for micro is “µ”.

  1. Ceiling Fan Capacitor supplier site 4.

Another question arises: is there enough room in the fan’s case, or, what physical size are these single capacitors? One attraction of these is that once the three-in-one module is replaced with three single ones, and properly wired into the rest of the fan, should any ever blow again in the future, only the single blown ones will require replacement. One downside of this is that they are not available in fractional microfarad values, should one of those be desired for any reason. Another downside is that the supplier only has values of 1-5 “m”fd, no 6 or 7, so this will not work for one of the fans which I want to very slightly increase the hi speed, and increase the low and medium speed, unless an extra one is added in parallel: then there would be additional housing-space requirements.

For those who may need additional ceiling-fan repair instruction:

  1. General ceiling fan repair with photos, repair information, and wiring schematic.

  2. Schematic diagram of reversible 3-speed ceiling-fans. (editor’s note, the above link was someone’s homepage that was at some point discontinued. The link was replaced with one from The Wayback Machine, but they do not archive images, so there aren’t any schematics )

While I won’t be installing a variable speed controller, it is nice to know one could be built from scratch, if desired:

  1. Variable speed ceiling fan control.

Some online sources claim the variable type of speed controller sometimes cause humming or buzzing while the fan is in operation.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but I spent several hours online learning more about ceiling fan capacitors than I ever wanted to know! I’ve actually created a spreadsheet and, assuming the generic schematic (scroll down, two different ones on page) that may match our fan, attempted to mathematically simulate the capacitance difference between the two motor inductance coils, since there are so many possible capacitance value combinations possible that feed these coils.

While it’s always nice to learn something new, if you have the time, these blown speed-control modules should have been a simple-to-replace item, but it’s become slightly more complicated than simple!

This has become a two-part topic, the next post is a continuation: Ceiling Fan Capacitor Solutions.

I’m sure there are a lot of other sources of ceiling-fan capacitors, and if I didn’t find yours: so sorry.


General electronic references:
Capacitors in series and parallel.
Schematic Symbols site 1.
Schematic Symbols site 2.
Capacitors.

Electronic Abbreviations site 1.
Electronic Abbreviations site 2.

Ceiling fan capacitor manufacturer information:
PDF – NTE ceiling fan capacitors

54 thoughts on “Ceiling Fan Capacitor Woes

  1. Pingback: Conscious Junkyard
  2. Electrical items in the home often tend to give problems. Getting spares for them may also be an issue at times. But if you could get them and adjust them according to our needs then its fun! What a Great story!

  3. Thank you for pointing that out Tim.

    Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the puzzle or complication, which requires a particular mindset to unravel, and another mindset to record or write down, that we may forget we are having fun, forget to note that we are experiencing joy!

  4. I ran across this blog entry about ceiling fans. With the exception of some spam that has been published in the comments section, it’s nevertheless, IMO, a cute story, with a quite-true underlying theme of various construction issues related to ceiling fan installation.

  5. “They either no longer carried these replacement capacitors, or never carried them in the first place.” – When buying household items we need to find if the spares are available for them or else we may have tough time finding them.

  6. I found the capicitor that I needed for my Harbor Breeze fan (which I had purchased from Lowe’s) by calling my Lowe’s and asking them for a 1-800 number for Harbor Breeze. It is made by the Litex company. The number I called was: 1-800-527-1292 and I told the operator that I was looking for replacement parts for my Harbor Breeze fan. Whille I was on hold,they said they will ask for the model number which is located on top of the motor, then they took my name, address and phone number and the model number of my Harbor Breeze fan and said they would have a capacitor to me within 7 to 10 working days, at no charge to me. I had run myself ragged looking at Lowes, Home Depot, Sutherlands and several of my local hardware stores. Hopes this helps someone.

  7. I agree with the idea that it is very hard to find parts for fans. Whenever a fan breats down it seems to be the end of it. It also depends on the manufacturer of the fan. It seems that the more expensive the ceiling fan or every other fan it becomes easier to get parts.

  8. Hopes this helps someone.(Quoting Maw)

    I just wanted to post to let “Maw” (Post #6) know that “her” information was quite valuable to me. My Harbar Breeze fan started smoking one night all of the sudden. While replacing the fan, I noticed that the capacitor was what failed. During an internet search on capacitors I found this web site which had “Maw’s” post. I called the number she posted for Litex and they are sending me a replacement free of charge in 7 to 10 days. The only additional information they required beside the model number was an “E” number that was also listed on the fan motor.

    Thanks Maw!

  9. Many thanks indeed for your information on the ceiling fan capacitors. Lowes and Home Depot were not able to help us. They simply said we don’t carry them and cannot help!!!!! It seems supplier site 1 is good but expensive it may cost upto 32 dollars for a single capacitor!!!!!!!

  10. Only the two-wire capacitors at supplier site #1 appear as single capacitors, others they list are “single modules” that are essentially a bank of several capacitors, some are two capacitors, others three capacitors, and some with four capacitors. It’s nice to have the option to replace the entire module, rather than the somewhat obscure method I used which required some rewiring, as it makes for a much easier repair. If the factory is willing to send replacement modules for free as some posters have said, perhaps because of some kind of warranty, then that’s probably the lowest-cost method.

  11. The ceiling fan in my kitchen is running very slow on the fastest setting. It’s a three speed fan. Came across your site in my search for a fix. Nice post. Now I’m wondering if a capacitor is my problem…

  12. fan 3 speed switches are not all the same. single pole triple throw switches connect the L terminal to only one additional contact at the same time. this connection goes like this: L NO CONTACT= OFF POSITION L TO TERMINAL 1 L TO TERMINAL 2 L TO TERMINAL 3 THIS IS KNOWN AS A SINGLE POLE (CONNECTION TO L TERMINAL) SINGLE THROW (TERMINAL 1, THEN AFTER PULLING CHAIN TO TERMINAL 2 THEN AFTER PULLING CHAIN TO TERMINAL 3). AT NO POINT IN THE SEQUENCE OF PULLING THE CHAIN DOES THIS TYPE SWITCH CONNECT MORE THAN 2 POSITIONS ON THE SWITCH.

    THE PULL CHAIN SWITCHES BEING SOLD AT MOST STORES ARE OF THIS TYPE. BUT THIS TYPE SWITCH IS NOT THE ONLY TYPE USED IN CEILING FANS.

    A SECOND TYPE SWITCH CONNECTS MORE THAN TWO OUTPUT TERMINALS AS YOU PULL THE CHAIN. IN OTHER WORDS YOUR FAN AINT WORKING BECAUSE THE CONNECTIONS AREN’T BEING MADE BY THE ABOVE DETAILED PULL CHAIN SWITCH. YOU NEED THIS SECOND TYPE OF PULL CHAIN SWITCH. yOU CAN’T GET IT AT MOST STORES. YOU CAN FIND IT ON LINE.

    SINGLE POLE MULTIPLE THROW SWITCH. IT CONNECTS ONE INPUT TERMINAL TO MULTIPLE OUTPUT TERMINALS AT A TIME.

  13. Mc Gill electrical products group Mcgillelectrical.com (THIS IS THE COMPANY i FOUND THE SWITCH AT)

    ADJUSTABLE FAN SPEED SWITCH 3A, 250VAC, 6A, 125VAC 3/8″ DIAMETER 1/4 INCH LONG 1003-0004 PART NUMBER

    This switch apparently is not the typical single pole single throw switch sold at most stores as a replacement switch for multi speed fans. SINGLE POLE SINGLE THROW L NONE L TO TERMINAL 1 L TO TERMINAL 2 L TO TERMINAL 3

    THE SWITCH PART NUMBER 1003-0004 DOES THIS INSTEAD

    OFF L TO TERMINALS 1 AND 2 HIGH L TO TERMINALS 1 AND 2 AND 3 MEDIUM L TO TERMINALS 2 AND 3 LOW L TO TERMINALS 1 AND 3

    THIS IS A SINGLE POLE MULTIPLE THROW SWITCH

    CAN YOU VERIFY THIS INFORMATION . i HAVE NOTICED MANY PEOPLE ONLINE HAVE BEEN REPLACING THE PULL CHAIN SWITCH IN THEIR FAN ASSY AS THEY GO BAD WITH THE INCORRECT TYPE SWITCH.

    THEY SEEM TO BE REMOVING THE SINGLE POLE MULTIPLE THROW SWITCH AND TRYING TO REPLACE IT WITH THE WRONG TYPE SINGLE POLE SINGLE THROW SWITCH WHICH OBVIOUSLY WON’T WORK!

    ANY CHANCE YOU COULD ADD THIS INFORMATION ON IT ? JUST A THOUGHT. i SEE A BIG NEED FOR THE INFORMATION AND FOR THE PART!!

    THANK YOU. DAVID BEDARD

  14. Thanks MAW for the info on the Harbor Breeze (Litex) tel number. I was able to get a new capacitor on the way at no charge. It is a shame that the big box stores just want you to rip the old fan off the ceiling and buy another. I always repair to the point of 50 per cent of a new one. Thanks again

  15. great article.., this article will be more informative if you add some images in your post..

    thank you

  16. Heri, Thanks for stopping by, I like your site, maybe some folks younger than me, or with more time than I have, will want to build some of those circuits!

    By the way, I happened across a Capacitor Manufacturer’s site the other day. While my guess from looking at their site is that they don’t sell retail, I could be wrong; in either case it’s a lead for finding certain hard to find capacitors.

  17. I’m very impressed with your site, Ken. I’m trying to repair a Hunter fan and have been searching for information on caps etc. I didn’t find 1/2 the stuff you did!

    Someone pulled the rug out from under some of your links! Doesn’t hurt your site; just FYI:

    re ‘site 3′: ‘MFD’ means microfarad. Yes, it’s inconsistent. I’ve never seen ‘millifarad’ used for caps.

    The link from ‘2. Schematic diagram of reversible 3-speed…’ took me to an apology page on Earthlink. “page not available” or something like that.

    re ‘supplier site 4′, “Error finding category. An error occurred while trying to find the specified category’.

    frank

  18. Thanks frank! I updated two of those links, it looks like one just changed their site’s URL structure, but the one with the schematic is gone and The WayBack Machine doesn’t have the images archived, though the text is still there. Regarding having trouble finding things, who knows. The Internet keeps changing.

    I was reminded of this fan project recently when working on my bread baking project. I need to decrease the seed yeast amount to better fit a culture time, and I’m probably going to take the easy way out and attempt to adjust the yeast amounts without mathematically modeling their growth curves simply by making a best guess and noting the response. In other words, projects that seem like they should be fast and simple often end up taking us in unexpected and circuitous directions that consume a lot more time than we first think they should.

    Good luck with your fan!

  19. Dear Sir/ Madam, Have a nice day. How are you? How goes your business? Hope every thing is well. This is Mr. Palash From Zen Ltd, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Zen Ltd is a largest trading house in our country; we have since engage last 15 years. We import Building materials and furniture and some electrical items from China, Malaysia, Italy, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. We have 10 big showrooms and so many agents. Now we are interested to import Fan Capacitor and trading our local market, every year more and less 100 billion only fan capacitor import our country, so understand our market. Our requirements were as below: Size: 2.5 UF ( Round ) 3.5 UF (Round ) Weight: 30 km Top side welding (no repite), Color Gray, you write on the capacitor Thailand standard.

    We have need the best price & sample. If your price and Quality is ok then you will continue business with us.

    Your prompt reply make a big business benefit both of us.

    Thanks and best regards

    Palash Manager (Commercial Dept) Zen Ltd. H-78/10, New Airport road, Chairman Bari, Mohakali, Dhaka. Tel: 88-02-8853045, 8811459 Fax: 88-02-8827689 Email: zentexltd@dtechltd.com Palash988@yahoo.com

  20. Palash Manager, your voltage and physical-size requirements seem to be missing.

    Also, please be advised this is a personal, non-commercial weblog, dotcom address notwithstanding. I’m personally interested in non-formal educational pursuits, and sharing what I’ve learned with others.

    Have a nice day!

  21. Surely ceiling fans are a problem. Normally electronic items in our houses a pain. There can be lot of repairs and sometimes you cant even repair them.

  22. I HAD GREAT FORTUNE NOT ONLY FINDING THE PART FOR MY FAN……BUT ALSO FINDING OUT WHY I HAD THE PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE. THE MANAGER AT DANS FAN CITY EXPLAINED THAT THE CAUSE OF THE BLOWN CAPICATOR WAS HAVING THE PULL CHAIN SET TO MED. OR LOW SPEED….THEN USING THE ON OFF SWITCH AT THE WALL TO OPERATE THE FAN. “THERE IS A REASON FANS START ON HIGH SPEED WITH THE PULL CHAIN SWITCH, THE ENTIRE MOTOR IS INVOLVED IN STARTING THE FAN FROM A STATIC STOP”. HE COMPAIRED IT TO STARTING A MANUAL TRANSMISSION CAR IN 4TH OR 5TH GEAR….SOMETHING IS GOING TO GIVE AND IN CEILING FANS ITS THE CAPICATOR. WE BOUGHT ALL OUR FANS THERE AND THEY STOCK PARTS FOR ALL THE FANS..I THINK THEIR CALLED GULF COAST FANS.REALLY ENJOYED YOUR ARTICLE..

  23. Hi Mr Ken. I’ve been trying to repair my ceiling fan 36″ and I need to know how can I test for the coils. The fan “died” 15 minutes after been connected; the switch that controlled the light is a dimmer so my sister put the dimmer at medium level and a rare sound was heard and passed 15 minutes the fan died. I’ve disassembled it and found a burn capacitor, almost exploted (it’s a double capacitor 1.5uF and 2.5uF branch arrengement). The next step is to verifying if the coils are good or are burned: I measured resistance and the values are 122 ohm and 200 ohm but I don’t know what’s the stator and what’s the rotor. i have some pictures to send to you if it’s necessary.

    For your time and any help you can give thanks.

  24. Hi Juan, you’d probably have some of the questions answered by the schematics and disassembly found here. There is one two-capacitor schematic on those pages, though it may not be the same as yours. Those pictures identify the rotor versus the stator, and give a generalized idea as to a possible coil layout. If you look at the differences between the schematic and the pictures, you’ll probably realize the schematic is idealized.

    I have seen no specifications for ceiling fans regarding run and/or auxiliary winding resistances. I’m loathe to speculate, though it’s generally known that resistance increases as wire length increases, or as wire size (diameter of cross section) decreases.

  25. Thanks Ken for your answer. I have another question: what is the inductance value or approximated inductance value for the stator’s windings on the pictures you sent me? it’s important to me in order to measuring and find out if the coils are OK. If I put a new capacitor and the winding is burned what could happen?

    Thanks again.

  26. Juan:

    Determining the resonant frequency, or some harmonic of it, is far beyond my expertise level (another similar circuit called a series resonant circuit). However, your questions and project once again show the need for more specifications to be disclosed in the owner’s manual.

    Going back to coil resistance, it may be a good idea to also check resistances or non-continuity of the coils to to the case or ground.

    Since I believe you said this was a relatively new fan, only operated for 15 minutes or so, perhaps you should simply return it for a replacement, presuming it’s covered under any guarantee that may exist.

  27. Wanted to thank Ken for this terrific article. Just wish I found it before I tore my fan apart trying to find out why it wasn’t working. Fortunately I was able to reasseble our fan and now just waiting to get our new capacitor.

    Thanks Ken!

  28. If it runs on high only..it,s usually the capacitor,mine was had a large hump where it had swollen from a breakedown of the plastic..

  29. My living room has 2 fans on the 20′ tall ceilings. they are 22 years old. only one has blown, but finding a replacement capacitor has been unavailable locally. online it $32.00, for one. any suggestions? also, the handyman set one fan in one direction and the other, the opposite direction, thinking of increasing circulation in the large tall room. Is that good thinking? or are they working against each other? Because the ceilings are so tall, it is hard to change the fan direction seasonally. ideas? thanks

  30. Regarding reversing the fans, I like them to run one direction when heating, and the opposite direction when cooling. However, you may prefer to experiment, as multiple fans do have some complementary air flow dependent upon their placements and the shape of your room. Have you considered getting yourself a tall ladder? You may also be able to devise some kind of a long stick, perhaps with a loop of some kind at the end, to reach the switch and maybe push or pull it gently to the opposite position.

    If it became a huge issue for you, you could perhaps get a wall mounted control, or replace the fans with ones that come with such a control. However, installing that is a messier and bigger job involving opening up some walls to place the wiring and any electrical boxes, then also the needed wall repairs, painting, etc. Apparently there are also remote-control operated ceiling fans, according to an internet search, that appear to be wireless.

  31. I found the best selection of fan capacitors at the best price by far was on Ebay. I needed a 3 uf, 300 Volt replacement capacitor for my Galleria ceiling fan. Ebay offered two, 2 uf 450 Volt fan capacitors going for $10 as a package. The trickiest part to me was finding a capacitor within 1 uf of the original that also had (1) dimensions that would fit into the junction box; and (2) a hole in the capacitor’s casing so I could screw it into place like the old capacitor.

    I scoured my town’s hardware stores and electrical supply stores for fan capacitors and turned up nothing comparable to what my fan had.

    My fan was giving off an odor at one of the speeds. Using this site and a few others, I got it apart pretty easily. The old capacitor showed no bulges or damage, but I still think it was failing. The new capacitor works great.

    Thank you for doing this site, Ken.

  32. I hope one of you here can help me. I was removing a perfectly working ceiling fan that has 3 speeds and a reverse switch, and I accidentally disconnected a few of the wires in the capacitor/motor jumble. I’ve identified the 2 wires that need to go to the light fixture on the bottom, but I’ve got a few other loose ones that I have no idea where/how to connect. If someone has a photo or good diagram, I think I could figure it out. I got close to understanding with a few of the links here, but I am not quite there…if you think you can help, please let me know!

    Here are two pictures of my loose ends with some description:

    http://radiantlifeproductions.com/images/wiringproblem1.jpg http://radiantlifeproductions.com/images/wiringproblem2.jpg

  33. Hi Ann, I know the next post is long winded (it just grew, sorry), but there are some ceiling fan schematics linked therein, one is for a two-capacitor, the other a three-capacitor fan: They may or may not represent your fan when it’s in working condition. Also, another set of offsite DPDT reverse switch schematics are linked somewhere in the comments section, they basically have two wires going in, and two wires going out.

    If that was my fan, I’d record all the existing connections before going further or disconnecting anything else. Welcome to the puzzle!

    If your ceiling fan is on a bench (no longer installed) I’d guess a volt-ohm meter, and possibly a low-voltage DC battery with a matching low-voltage flashlight bulb (like a test light) could come in handy. Ray Franco has resistance readings (ohms) for both sets of motor coils in each ceiling fan schematic. Whether those two wires coming up from the motor case go only to the motor’s run coil is unknown by me, but could be determined by continuity testing and ohm measurement.

    I’d also (probably mostly) want to trace continuity with the power supply wires (where the fan typically connects to household wiring in the ceiling) and rotating the speed switch through a full cycle while the chosen continuity tester is connected, preferably with alligator clips on the end of the tester’s test leads to free your hands. It’s a series of tests <grin> so you want to record all of the results, as well. You’d want to sort the results by switch position (thus suggesting a different testing process may be preferable). You’ll note the speed switch in the two schematics is quite a bit different with respect to each one’s continuity logic.

    With household wiring, typically the hot wire is black and the neutral white, at least in my part of the U.S. It’s been my experience that manufacturers often color code their wiring at the point of junction-box connection to the household wiring, which eliminates installation confusion, but I don’t know whether they’re under any legal obligation to do so. Without some testing to prove it, I wouldn’t want to assume that a white wire on the junction box side was the same as the white wire on the switch side (your two photos) of the motor.

    Another continuity test that is often performed is wire to chassis, this could reveal a shorted circuit when the schematic doesn’t indicate continuity.

    Good luck!

  34. Thanks Ken! Most of it was still together, and the wires for the lights were labeled. Just had to get those last four connected correctly and I think I’ve got it!

  35. Hi again Ann! I was looking at your photos a second time. I presume the fan is on a bench and not connected to any 120V AC power, because you said you were removing it, and the photos’ background suggests it’s on a bench. First, make sure the fan is disconnected from any power supply and is on a bench. The following is how I would go about trying to unravel the puzzle (which I have never done before in any ceiling fan).

    Briefly: I’d start looking for the power supply lines, the hot and neutral wire, and any branches that may connect to them, using continuity tests; then I’d make resistance measurements to identify the run coil wires, and then the aux coil wires. We know they’re there somewhere! Undoubtedly, I’d be scribbling undecipherable notes with cryptic diagrams madly on paper using a pencil (because it’s erasable)!

    More involved: In your fan it appears the reverse switch yellow wire may go down into to the motor case without any additional circuit legs branching off elsewhere, but some of its path is obscured in the photos.

    It’s not as clear to me from the photos what the reverse-switch orange wire connects to, maybe another orange wire, that then goes down into the motor(?): it looks like those wires and crimp connector are moved from each other in the two photos. There’s also a black wire joining a second(?) orange wire (w/crimp connector), and I can’t make out where the black wire goes in either photo, and since it exits the photos’ edges and doesn’t reenter, I presume it’s also a loose end. For the resistance test suggested below that particular black wire would need to be isolated if it is on the same circuit leg as the orange wire going down into the motor casing and the orange wire that connects to the reverse switch. The orange wires and the black that joins one of them are simply hard for me to see and fully track in the photos with high confidence.

    Anyway, I’m thinking that the orange and yellow wires which connect to the reverse switch’s middle terminals could be the reverse switch “output wires” going to the motor run coil (“output” is probably not quite a correct terminology or energy-flow conception, but it’s how I think of the reverse switch as “a module” or two in and two out; for alternate conceptions, see Ray’s fan schematics and this AC vs DC page). If so, then the blue and the brown wires that also connect to the reverse switch’s terminals that you’ve labeled “loose ends” would be the “run-coil input-wires,” each one going to opposite ends of the run coil, and would have a resistance reading on a VOM (volt-ohm meter) when measured across their stripped ends, presuming that either two of Ray’s schematics are at least somewhat representative of your fan (it’s the “best guess” we have to go on). To make such a reading you might need to slide the reverse switch a time or two to make sure it’s fully at one end position or the other and not in the middle, unless you measure the value from the underside of the crimp connectors on the orange and yellow wires, or where they connect on the reverse switch (and the blue and brown are not touching each other or anything else, including your fingers). It’s also useful to know if the switch has good continuity in each switch position.

    The resistance reading of the run coil, if the wires going to it can be found, offers a possible clue to whether your fan was a two-capacitor or a three-capacitor model, unless you already know that information. The other clue would be the continuity logic of the speed switch (which is needed anyway). Once the wires to the “run coil” have been found, the next coil wires to find are the ones going to the “aux coil.” Similar procedures could be used, and there are fewer wires to consider once run-coil wires and its circuit legs have been identified.

    If you don’t have such a VOM or equivalent, then maybe you need someone to help (in person) who has one, or possibly borrow or purchase one (and learn how to use it).

    Another approach could be to find an identical fan, look at how it’s wired and copy the capacitor wiring in your fan.

  36. I called Litex on Monday; had 3 new capacitors …. no charge ….. on Saturday.

  37. I stumbled across your site while looking for the reason why my ceiling fan blades suddenly won’t turn even though I can hear the motor change speeds when I pull the chain. I had taken the fan down to investigate a humming sound that had started. I tighted all the connections and reinstalled the fan. It was working but when I tried to tighten the box that contains the wiring, it wouldn’t ‘catch’ as in the grooves were stripped and I must have twisted some of the wires because when I turned the wall switch back on the blades wouldn’t spin but the light works fine. Was wondering if it could be the reverse switch maybe but then again this site is about capacitors. I checked the capacitor and it looks fine…no bulges or anything.

    If anyone has insight into my dilemmna or could direct me to the appropriate site please let me know.

    Thanks

    I like the fan and don’t want a new one.

  38. That’s fascinating! The motor is making some kind of sound, but the blades won’t turn. Could the blades be stuck?

    One of the commenters in the companion post (next one) said that if one of the coils wasn’t energized (don’t remember whether they said the Run or Aux [auxiliary] coil), the fan blades would still, eventually, turn at some, presumably very slow, speed (going from memory).

    I guess the second thing I’d check, presuming you did reconnect all the junction box wires correctly, is whether sliding the reverse switch from one position to the other helps. Sometimes that switch gets stuck in the middle, even though they’re not designed to stop at that point: when they do, they’re essentially in an off position. According to the schematics I’ve seen, that switch only connects to one coil. The first thing is whether the fan blades are stuck, perhaps by something that has gotten bent out of its normal position and which might be creating friction, essentially stopping the blades. When the power is off, they should spin freely by hand, and not make any repeating noises or scraping sounds.

    You also wrote that you were worried you twisted some wires. Maybe you should check that out, see if any wires twisted themselves out of their connection points.

    I don’t have a good capacitor tester, they’re kind of pricey, or they used to be. Even with such a tester, I’ve personally seen a small engine condenser (which is a type of capacitor ["points and condenser", prior to electronic ignition]) that tested okay (on someone else’s pricey tester) but failed to allow the engine to start, and when replaced, the engine started fine. Anyway, another commenter mentioned they had a noisy fan, some kind of hum, and replacing the capacitors fixed the hum.

    Trying to troubleshoot without making any tests at all is hit and miss.

  39. After piecing together information from other sites I did check to see if maybe the reverse switch was in the middle but pushing it up or down has no effect. The blades spin readily either direction when the fan is off. I checked all the wire connections but they seem to be snug. I fear that maybe some wires may have been pulled to the point of disconnection where they run up and into the motor and of course I can’t open the motor, or there’s a break in one of the wires and I can’t detect it. I left the fan on for a while to see if it would eventually begin to move any at all and it just doesn’t. Crying won’t fix it either…

    Thanks for taking the time to try to help. Maybe it’ll mysteriously start all by itself, well, hopefully after I flip the wall switch.

    Loretta

  40. If you feel like crying, it may be a signal of being overwhelmed. Fixing these electrical systems isn’t for everyone. A time-benefit analysis given such a feeling would probably say take it to a shop for repair or replacement, if you can afford to do so.

    For some folks, and I include myself, I reckon the puzzle intrigues. At first it’s a steep learning curve, the time commitment is significant, unless you already have existing skills in related areas (such as already knowing how to use a volt-ohm meter to perform continuity and resistance tests [also measure voltages and currents] and a general idea of the differences in AC vs DC). These are kind of ubiquitous meters, useful in a lot of areas where basic electrical measurements need to be made, and low-end or bargain-basement models can be obtained today for about $5 + shipping. One would allow you to trace the wires that you’re worried may be disconnected without disassembling the unit further, but if you don’t have such a meter and have never used one, it could seem overwhelming to understand how to do so, or even how to go about doing so by reading the schematic. There’s the additional problem that the generic schematics are only a rough guide, meaning that while tracing the wires you would probably want to note any variances from the generic schematics and record that into a more specific schematic for your particular fan, unfortunately, then an evaluation could be required to discern a broken wire vs a design difference, my guess is this could be considered an even higher level skill set.

    Your words about crying made me recall a psychology 101 (or maybe a 200-series class) professor who claimed that crying was a healthy thing to do. I doubt if it will mysteriously help directly with the broken fan, but if you feel like crying, by all means, do so. I should add, don’t forget to laugh about it later!

    Good luck!

  41. “My fan was giving off an odor at one of the speeds. Using this site and a few others, I got it apart pretty easily. The old capacitor showed no bulges or damage, but I still think it was failing. The new capacitor works great.”

    I had similar issues with my fan and found some help here and at Installing ceiling fan squido page.

    Thanks for helping out

  42. Most fans have a sticker on them that names the manufacturer, and gives an 800 number.

    If you call the number (customer service) and give them the model number of your fan, they will very likely send you a capacitor for free.

  43. Where does the off-white/light gray wire from the motor winding connect? Which wire does it conect to?

  44. I am trying to replace a capacitor in a Hunter Original that is around 25 years old. The original “fixer” apparently removed the capacitor without marking the wires and decided he couldn’t fix it.

    I have called Hunter Tech support, but they are unable to help me. The model of the fan is 25750. Hunter is telling me it was made in 2007, but I know it’s much older than that. The lady that owns it says she bought the fan in the mid 80’s. She found the owner’s manual and is dated 1985.

    It has one capacitor with 3 wires (2 white, 1 black). The fan is a 3-speed, reversible fan with a light kit. I am trying to find someone who can tell me how to wire the capacitor so I can get this fan and light working again.

  45. Have a Quorum high end fan that blew up its controls. No longer made or supported by Quorum. Has no pullchain; totally controlled by its wall switch.

    Any clue what its ckt diag would look like?

    Don

  46. The only schematics I’m familiar with are the ones at electrical-forensics.com (linked in the above article next to a “1.”). There’s one two capacitor and one three capacitor schematic. The last post on my next article links to a blog where a unique wiring solution was conceived. Maybe you can figure something out that works for your fan with a little bit of study.

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